I am not a big sports fan. Never was. But, I spent my summers with my cousins during my teenage years. Their son, Lenny, who is about six years younger than me, loved the Mets. He would eat a few bowls of cereal and explain the statistics, the teams and what cities they were from, but mostly he talked about the players that he loved. I became familiar with names like Tommy Agee, Bud Harrelson, Ed Kranepool, Cleon Jones, Ron Swoboda, Tom Seaver, and more. I loved his enthusiasm, it was contagious. I used to fantasize that my future husband would be a sports enthusiast and we would watch the games together. I got my wish. In 1983 I married a guy who loved baseball.
My husband was playing ball practically from the moment he could walk. His mother often told me how he would play baseball in the yard by himself. He’d throw the ball in the air and hit it, then he would run around “bases” he had set up. His love for baseball has been lifelong. He would play on his high school and college teams. I supposed he dreamed of being in the major leagues one day, but that was not meant to be. When we started dating and long after, I learned that he had an encyclopedia of baseball information in his head. That was fascinating to me how his head could hold so much trivial information when there were books full of it that were so easy to access. So, whenever he would forget something I told him to do it would irk me to no end. “How is it you can remember years of useless baseball statistics, but you can’t remember a simple thing I ask you too?” He had no answer. I told him to try to forget some of that baseball stuff and make room for things I needed him to remember.” Unclutter the brain!
We watched many a baseball game, Yankees and Mets. My cousin, Lenny’s passion for the Mets still stayed with me because they were part of some of the happiest days of my life. So I got very involved with the Mets and they became my team. In 1986, I knew all the players, I had my own favorites and I cheered them on. My husband explained the nuances of the game and answered all my questions. Little did I know that they would go on to win the 1986 World Series. I was so excited! You would have thought I had a huge bet placed on them. But, all good things come to an end. After the season was over, I learned that they were trading away some of my favorite players to other teams. To say I was angry was putting it mildly. How dare they trade anyone who just won the World Series? And if they were going to trade someone they should have consulted me, I knew who should go! My husband never heard the end of it and I’ll bet he was sorry he encouraged my interest in baseball too.
A couple of years later, we went to visit my cousin Lenny’s family, who were now living in Florida. Somehow we got to talking about the Mets. I went on a long rant about all the players and how the team made some bad trades, and his father started laughing out loud. He was surprised and shocked that I knew so much about the team and the game. So was I. However, with the trades and team changes, I lost total interest in the Mets. Who cares if they win anymore! They got rid of the guys I was emotionally invested in and I didn’t want to know anything! I’ll show them! They lost a fan! And that ended my interest in baseball (though I still have a soft spot for the Mets, who were never the same after 1986).
Last night, my husband was apparently watching the Mets game downstairs. He came on and switched the channel from my “Little House On The Prairie” to baseball. He hadn’t done that in a long time. In face he rarely watches baseball at all any more, but I am glad he watched last night. Last night something special happened that hadn’t happened in 50 years of Mets history. Last night Johan Santana pitched a “no-hitter.” It was the firt in team history. Of course, I know that pitching a perfect game is nearly impossible to do. Many pitches can’t even pitch for all nine innings, they usually put a relief pitcher in. But, Santana not only completed the nine innings, but he pulled off the perfect game! The Mates had had extraordinary pitchers through the years: Nolan Ryan and Tom Seaver were two of my cousin’s favorites, and Dwight Gooden was one of mine. None of them ever pitched a no-hitter.
My husband was very impressed, in his quiet way. I’m sorry I missed the game, I could have blogged my reaction, but who knew? All I know right now is that this amazing pitcher has brought back to mind some amazing memories and now I have preserved another little piece of the puzzle called “my life.”